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County credit rating boosted

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Chaves County has had its bond rating upgraded to its highest level yet, from A1 to Aa3, after a credit opinion issued Aug. 4 by Moody’s Investor Services.

The information was discussed briefly at the Chaves County Board of Commissioners meeting on Thursday.

“Chaves County had increasingly positive financial performance over the last three fiscal years, so we do expect that to continue over the near term,” said Chief Financial Officer Anabel Barraza. “This is the highest that Chaves County has ever received.”

An Aug. 9 report by Moody’s indicated that the county has had a strong financial performance over the past three years. It had an estimated operating surplus for fiscal year 2021 of $3.2 million and operating reserves in 2022 of about $600,000. The report also stated that the county has a stable tax base and only $2.5 million in outstanding long-term debt, with no immediate plans to issue new debt.

Credit challenges were listed as the “elevated pension liability” in the area and the overall low income of residents, which is now 67% of the U.S. median income, down from 74% in 2016.

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The ratings indicate the risk of issuing long-term credit to organizations and institutions. According to Moody’s, the Aa rating is the second-highest category for long-term debt, after AAA. The service also adds “modifiers” of 1 to 3 to the ratings, with a 1 being the higher end of the scale.

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